With Sunday’s loss to the Bills, the Dolphins are all but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. It is a hard pill to swallow, but it is true. Instead of lamenting the fall this franchise took (at least in the win column), let us look at what an ideal offseason would look like.
The first thing we must do is identify holes in the roster. Our offense is mostly intact, but we have gaping holes and the wide receiver position and tight end position. We have the worst wide receiver corps on the league and we need more pass catching tight ends and we have too many of the pass dropping tight ends. On defense, we need to upgrade both inside linebacker positions. We should get younger in the outside linebacker position, and we need to figure out our situation at nose tackle. That sums up our holes in a nutshell.
The next thing we have to look into is which of our free agents we would like to keep. Dan Carpenter and Davone Bess need to be retained, as they have been very good finds that have contributed at their respective positions, kicker and slot receiver. Anthony Fasano and Joey Haynos are also free agents this year. While Haynos has the size advantage, Fasano would be a decent second tight end as he can block well and can catch to some extent, so I would keep Fasano and possibly retain Haynos for the league minimum. Fullback Lousaka Polite is arguably the best fullback in the league, as he delivers punishing blocks but he is a great short yardage back and must be retained. Ronnie Brown is arguably our most potent weapon on offense, but considering how injury prone he is I would rather use the franchise tag, and monitor his injury situation for one more year before giving him a long term deal. If Ferguson can come back from his injury without any lingering effects, then we need to resign him. If he cannot, then it will affect our draft strategy. Keeping Chad Pennington in some sort of capacity should also be considered as I believe he is helping Henne break down film, which has helped him limit his mistakes. Keeping Jason Taylor around another year is also a good idea as he is arguably the best linebacker that we have.
Assuming there is no CBA next year, the NFL will have an uncapped year and no playoff teams can sign free agents. Two wide receivers we can target are Vincent Jackson of the Chargers and Brandon Marshall of the Broncos. Both have very good hands, and have the size to make plays as well as the ability to stretch defenses which are two things that the Dolphins sorely need. Besides Owen Daniels, who will likely be franchised by the Texans, there are not any elite tight end prospects in the free agency market. If the Broncos franchise Marshall, they probably cannot afford to franchise Dumervil who may hit the market. Dumervil has been an outstanding 3-4 outside linebacker this year and will make a great pair with Cameron Wake for the future. Barrett Ruud is a stellar inside linebacker for the Bucs and if they decide not to resign him, moving him to Miami would be a great idea in order to upgrade a miserable inside linebacker pair. DeMeco Ryans is also a very good linebacker to pick up if Houston does not resign him.
Naturally, we probably cannot get all of the above but one or two of them would go a long way towards helping this team compete. We will most likely end up with one of the linebackers and possibly one of the two aforementioned wide receivers. Either way we still have a hole at tight end. Hence, we should trade Channing Crowder and Ted Ginn and possibly a 4th or 6th round draft choice to Oakland for tight end Zach Miller, who is a superb and very underrated tight end. Crowder may not be able to cover a tight end, but he can stuff the run to a decent degree, which is something that the Raiders do not do well. Everyone knows that Al Davis is in love with speed and Ginn can run a great forty, and Ginn may blossom once he is out of Miami as he has been bashed by the media relentlessly and has a room in Sparano’s dog house. A possible trade for Anquan Boldin is a possibility depending on their asking price (I would not give up more than a 2 and a late round pick for him), if we cannot land a decent wide receiver.
We have finally arrived at the draft. Our first round selection will not be a wide receiver no matter what we did in free agency and it will most likely depend on what Jason Ferguson does. If he comes back to the Dolphins, then getting a stud inside linebacker like Rolando McClain or Brandon Spikes, who may be an okay fit as we may interpret the eye gouging incident as a mean streak which is what Parcells liked about center Jake Grove. If Ferguson cannot come back then we have to pick Terrence Cody who will likely be the only elite nose tackle prospect on the board and will make a dominant defensive line with Langford and Starks. Cody does worry me a bit as he has had work ethic issues in the past and comes off about as smart as a cinder block, but he has the size and ability to be a dominant nose tackle in this league. In the second round we need to address the wide receiver position if it was not done in free agency. While many point to Arrelious Benn as a wide receiver that Parcells would love due to his size, he has hands of stone, and frankly we already brought in Ernest Wilford a year ago, who was the big pass dropping wide receiver. Golden Tate, meanwhile, has much better hands, has showed the ability to get open and stretch defenses and does not seem to have an attitude problem. If Brandon LaFell, mysteriously dropped to this point, we need to draft him as he has the hands and huge size (6’ 3’’). Our third round pick should be spent on an inside line backer as long as we did not take one in the first round and pick up one in free agency. Otherwise, we should take a nose tackle that Ferguson could help groom to take over when he calls it quits. The rest of the draft should be a combination of taking the best player available as well as trying to obtain more depth on the offensive line as Smiley and Grove are usually on the injured list.
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